In the news today

Hrmph. This “updating regularly” thing has really fallen by the wayside in the past few months. My apologies.

Anyway, this is a brief post, primarily for the purpose of bragging and talking about my summer jobs. I just opened up the New Haven Independent, and my two bosses were in side-by-side articles. First, this guy is the head of Traffic and Parking; he took over the department a couple of months ago, and even though I was assigned a different internship for the summer, I love working for him so much that I’ve fought to keep working there one day a week. He’s one of those people who’re a delight to work for: he’s incredibly competent and dedicated, and he balances genuine idealism with experienced pragmatism. I didn’t have much to do with the events in the article, beyond being present for several of the Indiana Jones planning meetings, but it’s a good example of how fun it is to work for someone who actually cares.

The second article is the one I’m most proud of, though. The Mayor had a press conference today at the police department. Well, all that data he cites about shootings in New Haven? That’s what I’ve been working on. Half of the PowerPoint presentation linked by the article was copied straight from the data and observations of trends that I compiled, analyzed, and wrote. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting them to cut-and-paste so completely; it’s a little intimidating to be watching the Mayor giving a press conference and realize that he’s quoting what you wrote, stylistically awkward turns of phrase and all! ::grins::

Still, it was fun; and more than that, it feels good to know that the weeks of work I’ve been spending are actually getting out there. I’ve been spending eight hours a day, four days a week, immersed in case files and criminal records of people getting shot or shooting each other. It’s been . . . overwhelming, and challenging, and hilarious, and depressing, in turns. Part of me wishes that the police department kept better electronic records; but part of me realizes that by having to enter in all that information in painstaking detail, I immersed myself in the details and trends of the shootings in a way that simply seeing the numbers wouldn’t have accomplished.

Anyway, that’s been my summer so far. I’ve been doing lots of cooking — I baked pita bread for the first time this week, and it came out delicious — and I need to nudge myself to post those recipes and photos. Here, have a link about a romantic and sad story about a transsexual Pakistani and his young wife.


This chocolate is better than you.

Pierre Marcolini boxWell, this post has been a few months in the making; I kept on setting it aside. At any rate, during Spring Break, I visited New York and stopped by Pierre Marcolini. Sadly, they didn’t have hot chocolate that day, but I did walk away with an assortment of their chocolates; they’re the first really high-end chocolates I’ve ever eaten. It was a beautiful experience, and here are my entirely unprofessional reactions.

Assorted Pierre Marcolini chocolates

Massepain Pistache: Paste of ground almonds and pistachios with a powdered sugar in dark chocolate
Massepain Pistache
Very thin chocolate shell, a sweet dark chocolate that harmonizes with the filling. Filling is lovely, unctuous but not too smooth or thick/pasty, with almond and liqueur and hints of pistachio. I like that they left a bit of texture in the marzipan, so it was moist and almost crumbly. Sweetness of the marzipan is complemented by a hint of light tanginess (the alcohol? it doesn’t seem citrusy) and the slight bitterness of the chocolate. Very pleasurable to eat – satisfying, not overly rich or sweet.

Coeur Framboise: Dark chocolate raspberry infused ganache in a white chocolate shell
Coeur Framboise
Really intense raspberry, but hardly tart at all. Very, very sweet. The white chocolate tastes like decent white chocolate (though not El Rey), and the ganache is a little more sticky and less bitter than most of the others. This one is very appealing, and I can see why it’s popular; the woman at the store recommended it to me repeatedly, although I was hesitant. It’s sweet and smooth-textured and bursting with fruitiness, without the harshness of citrus or dark chocolate; a very American chocolate. The raspberry tastes slightly artificial to me, though, and it’s just too sweet for me to really enjoy the flavors. I might recommend it to someone who found dark chocolate too strong, but I probably wouldn’t get it again myself. Very very beautiful, though.

Thym Orange: Dark chocolate ganache infused with fresh thyme and orange peels
Thym Orange
I like this one. Very smooth texture, both of the thin shell and the thick ganache. The orange seems perhaps slightly stronger than the thyme, but both harmonize very well; it’s a rounded, very interesting flavor, with lots of different facets and notes (citrusy, herby, fruity, bitter) coming to play. The orange is very vivid and natural, hints of candied orange peel; the thyme haunts the background, balancing the orange’s assertiveness. The chocolate isn’t as sweet as some of the other ganaches, which is nice; it’s certainly sweet enough to keep this a dessert, but it’s not a sugary dessert. The thyme is coming out late, almost as an aftertaste or a shadow of the chocolate. This is lovely, adult, complex “eating chocolate,” the sort of thing that reminds me of a multifaceted gourmet meal – many decadent flavors, but no one overwhelming the rest.

Quatre Epices: Infusion of cinnamon, clove, cardamom and ginger (in caramel with salted butter)
Quatre Epices
Nice. Strong and sweet, rather reminiscent of Pfeffernuesse cookies. The filling is very solid and only slightly sticky, with just a hint of the browned buttery caramel taste, and spiced with a rich blend that nearly but not quite overpowers the dark chocolate shell. The texture of the filling is nice, not as smooth as ganache, but solid. Enjoyable but slightly uninspiring; I feel like a Pfeffernuesse would offer a similar experience, albeit less dense. One of the prettiest chocolates, though. The buttery undercurrent comes through over the course of eating the chocolate, building slowly; the salt is a barely-perceptible undercurrent that harmonizes everything together. Pleasant, if unremarkable, aftertaste.

Violette: Dark chocolate ganache infused with flowery Violette
Very fruity but light; almost reminiscent of raspberry. Not soapy/perfumey at all. The ganache is good, with a texture that’s neither sticky nor thick, and the thin dark chocolate shell is of excellent quality, but both are overshadowed by the violet taste, which seems to come from the sprinkled crumbles on the top (the ganache itself is only very subtly flavored). Tastes like deep royal purple flecked with gold and tied up with a rainbow power bow. Undertones of artificial grape and cotton candy. An interesting and enjoyable experience, but violet may just not be my thing.

Câlin Lait: Almond-flour crisps topped with cream caramel and milk chocolate
Calin Lait
Mmmmm. This is like the best candy bar ever. Lighter than the last one, and quite sweet. Lovely crunch on the bottom, with hints of toffee (buttery and slightly, pleasantly burnt) and a subtle nuttiness. The texture is unexpected: a very thin outside shell, with a lower layer of tiny, crystalline crunchy bits in a light mousse, but the top caramel layer is surprisingly thin-feeling for a stiff liquid. Overall impression: light, sweet, happy.

Pierre Marcolini: 72% cocoa content, combination of beans from the Venezuelan regions Sur de Lago, Carenero and Rio Caraibe
Pierre Marcolini dark chocolate
Oh. This is good. Thick, strong ganache. This is chocolate – not too fruity, not too milky or creamy, not too bitter. Perfectly smooth on the tongue, mildly sweet, powerful. A cello solo that carries within it the command of the whole orchestra. This is better than sex. This is the most essentially and purely chocolate chocolate I may ever have eaten. Platonic chocolate. I don’t know how to describe it, even, other than chocolate. Pleasant, slightly bitter aftertaste.

Form, Norm, and Exceeding Erudition: The Use of Colons in Paper Titles

Well, the semester is finally over, and it’s a beautiful thing. I’ve already begun my summer internship, and I’ve got loads of posts to catch up on here; I’ve really been failing at my duties. However, now that my last papers are turned in, I wanted to point out a certain trend of mine that I’ve found amusing. The following are the titles of the papers I turned in last semester and this semester, in chronological order. You may notice a certain common feature in the syntax of the titles!

  • Feminine Wisdom and the Ungendered Word in Tertullian and Origen
  • Same-Sex Christian Marriage and the Significance of Gender
  • Rebekah’s Romantic Coercion: Rhetorical Tensions in Genesis 24:50-68
  • From Schisms to Sacraments: Augustine’s Doctrine of Baptism
  • “Why Has the LORD Done Thus to This Land?”: Deuteronomy as Apologia for Exile
  • Lilith and Eve in the Garden of Eden: Reexamining Lilith’s Feminist Prominence
  • Caenis, Caeneus, and the (Un)Gendered Self: A Story of Diversity and Consensus
  • Singing the Song of the LORD in a Foreign Land: Psalm 137 and the Memorialization of Loss
  • Daughter Earth: Ecofeminism and an Ethic of Stewardship
  • Comprehending the Incomprehensible: Julian of Norwich and the Limits of Theodicy